This is the last day of my week-long fasting and prayer for marriages. The Lord has put these specific requests and prayers on my heart, and I have learned a great deal from being obedient to His calling to me. Honestly, I have benefited and been changed so much in this process, I kind of wonder if God meant it for me than He did for the people I was praying for!
But I know that prayer can change things, and despite my tendency to doubt the efficacy of it, I have seen The Lord answer prayers and help others during even just this week. He’s affirmed me to keep pressing on, when I was hungry, when I felt lost, when I doubted the real impact this was having, when my blogs didn’t get read, and when they did but nothing extraordinary happened. I was reminded that God did call me to this, and so I need to trust that He did so for a reason, even if I don’t know what that reason is just yet, or will ever.
Today’s focus is on respecting the marriage vows, both in and outside of the marriage. One story comes to mind as I focus on this particular topic, and I tell it to give you a testimony and a reflection of what marriage is truly all about. It took place on my own wedding day.
I had previously asked Dennis, my fiancée (at the time), to please not smoke a cigarette during our reception.
Dennis used to smoke cigarettes, which he and anyone who knows him well will tell you, and I can’t stand the smell or taste of smoke, and I did NOT want to be kissing my new husband and tasting the worst taste in the world. Call me crazy, but I didn’t want to do that.
Well, directly after the ceremony, when we were all on our way to take pictures with our photographer, I guess the weight of the commitment we had just made became overwhelming, and so Dennis decided to light one up to calm his nerves.
Now based upon my Day 3 blog post (the one about me smashing glasses on the ground), I can only imagine what you picture me doing in this situation. But I can assure you, Galesburg’s newspaper did not read “Bride Smashes Champaign Glass into Groom’s Head” on the headline of the next day’s paper, but only by the Grace of God.
I am not lying, nor am I over exaggerating when I tell you that everything in me wanted to put out that cigarette into his hand, upon which sat a new wedding band, which I had placed there to symbolize our love and commitment to one another. But I took a deep breath and remembered my own wedding vows.
“I promise to see your mistakes and your weaknesses as opportunities to know and display Christ’s incredible Grace and Mercy, and I promise to forgive you, because I know that I have been forgiven.”
I mean…. how could I say those words, with God and my entire family as witness, and then fail to live up to them five minutes later? I couldn’t. And The Lord gave me strength to make my desires known to Dennis, but to do it in a kind, respectful, and forgiving way– something I am not naturally capable of. I forgave him before he apologized, and I moved on.
All of the glory for that goes to God. I can tell you without a doubt that is was not by my own strength that I did this.
But looking back on this memory, I see that this has been a picture of how our marriage has been. Not my miraculous capability to forgive–no, not at all!–but of the temptation each of us would face to hold on to and live up to our marriage vows in real life.
I sear, every day is a test from God and a temptation of the flesh, and only when we are leaning on God can we truly respect the marriage vows we each gave to one another.
In that same vein, it is only by the Grace of God that we can overcome the times when other people outside of the marriage do not respect our marriage vows. This is something that I have not heard talked about very often, yet it is something that I have experienced and have had to pray my way through. It can be very detrimental when those around you do not respect the decision you have made to marry someone, or when those around you do not take your marriage vows seriously, or even when those around you simply disrespect your husband or wife. It is very common, and it’s not always clear what can or should be done about these situations, and so because of this, it is an area that needs a lot of prayer.
Some examples that Dennis and I have come into contact with throughout our almost 3 years of marriage are as follows: unmarried people demeaning our decision to marry, family members rejecting or disrespecting the new member of the family, others attempting to pursue an inappropriate relationship with one of us, even after being told that we are married, “friends” bad-talking our spouse and tempting us to disrespect our spouse, “friends” suggesting divorce… the list goes on and on, as I’m sure it will continue to do so.
Sometimes, our friends, Christian and non-Christian alike, attempt to give us advice in our marriage, but it doesn’t respect the vows we made. In these situations, we try not to get angry at those people, but to stay strong in what we know The Lord has called us to do, and perhaps even gently remind them of our vows and what we believe.
Sometimes, usually with people we don’t know well, the people around us blatantly disrespect the marriage vows and even attempt to get us to do so. In these situations, we honestly try to get away from them, especially if they are areas of sensitive temptation, or, if it something we are not tempted in, we try to gently correct the person and share with them our marriage vows.
Sometimes it’s something as indirect as the exclusion of one spouse, suggesting that the two are not “One Flesh” as God says, or as direct as trying to convince us that marriage is the “wrong” choice in today’s world. Or it could even be the way marriage is portrayed in the media, tempting us to change the way God wants us to think about this special relationship we have with our spouse.
Whatever the example that may come to your mind when you think of disrespecting the marriage vows, I hope that this prayer will help you fight against it and fight to respect and live up to those words that you said to your spouse on that day of your wedding, however long ago it was.
In today’s culture, it is hard to keep our marriage vows in mind. It seems like every time we turn, there is something that tempts us to disrespect those promises, whether it’s in the form of refusing to forgive, pursuing lust, keeping secrets, bad-mouthing the other person, speaking lies, neglecting the other’s needs, thinking evil thoughts, or any number of other ways that the marriage vows can be violated, I know that this area needs special attention.
I pray for the husbands and wives Lord, that they may be reminded of those vows they made, whether they wrote them themselves, or repeated them after the Pastor or Priest or Efficient. You have designed us to create a covenant with our spouse, just as You have created a covenant with us Lord, and I thank you and praise you for designing us this way, in Your likeness. Help those who are married to keep their covenant, and to respect and adhere to their marriage vows. When they are tempted Lord, I pray that you remind them of those words, and motivate them to want to keep their promises to one another.
I pray for the world and the people that surround married couples today. I know Father, that there are many evil forces at work to try to rip married couples apart, and they often do this by disrespecting those vows that the couple has made to each other. I pray you give the couples strength to fight against these forces and see them for what they are. Do not let “friends” and family to lead a wife or husband away from his or her spouse. God, I know that divorce is a common thing in the world, but let it not be a common idea in the heads of those who are married and who are following you. Let it not even be an option unless infidelity, abuse, or neglect is beyond all hope of atonement in the relationship– I trust that you will prompt those that need to be prompted for this. I know God, that there are many subliminal messages in the media and culture of today’s world that may teach us to see marriage in a way that you would not like us to see it. I pray You tackle those misconceptions to the ground so that those who are married can display the kind of marriage that You have made for them.
I pray God, that if those marriage vows are broken, or should I say, when those marriage vows are broken (for we know we are sinful by nature and will make mistakes), that you will restore us and motivate us to recommit ourselves to them. God, when the vows are disrespected, I pray you give us strength and wisdom to overcome, and shine with the light of Your presence. Do this, Lord, so that others who may not understand marriage, will be inspired and enlightened on the beautiful design you have for it!
May the vows that you have prompted us to make live forever in our hearts along with all of Your promises and the love You bestow upon us, and the grace you provide to get through. In the name of Your beautiful Son’s name I pray. Amen.
What were your marriage vows? Are you living up to them? How can I pray for you and your marriage, or for a marriage you know?